Chennai: Versatile singer S P Balasubrahmanyam hailed as the “singing moon” by his millions of fans was laid to rest at his farmhouse near here on Saturday with a 24-gun salute by the Tamil Nadu police.
After the singer’s son S P Charan performed the funeral rites amid chants by priests, the Last Post was played by a police band and 24 personnel in ceremonial attire gave a gun salute.
Later, the body with SPB’s glasses on and smeared with ‘Thiruneeru’ (sacred ashes) on the forehead and draped in zari dhoti was lowered into a deep pit and buried as chants of “SPB Pugazh Onguga” (Live long SPB’s fame) rent the air.
Flower petals were showered on the body and crystal salt strewn around inside the pit before its closure.
With policemen, their rifles tucked under their arms marching along, the body was brought on a traditional hay-lined bier to the final resting place on the verdant premises from a ‘pandal’ earmarked for people to pay homage and perform rituals.
The farmhouse at Tamaraipakkam in Tiruvallur district teemed with his fans, well-wishers and celebrities for the funeral since early morning and 500 police personnel were deployed to regulate the crowd.
Tamil Nadu culture minister K Pandiarajan, Andhra Pradesh irrigation minister Anil Kumar Yadav, top actor Vijay, film directors Bharathiraja, Ameer, music composer Devi Sri Prasad, singer Mano, actor Arjun and comedian Mayilsami were among the celebrities who turned up to pay their last respects.
Though police had initially said only about 150 people would be allowed to pay homage, more and more men and women trooped to the singer’s idyllic house to pay homage.
SPB’s first song was in the Telugu film “Sri Sri Sri Maryada Ramanna” (1967) and his debut song in Tamil “Athanodu Ippadi Irundhu” in a movie titled ‘Hotel Rambha’ never saw the light of the day.
His entry in the Tamil film industry happened with ‘Shanthi Nilayam’ and ‘Adimaippen’, both of which hit screens in 1969.
Before becoming ill, he recorded a zestful opening song for the under production Rajinkanth starrer “Annatha,” a D Imman musical and it turned out be his last song in his career that spanned over five decades.
Imman said: “I feel so blessed that his last song was in my music. Such a cultured and affectionate man, there is no replacement for him. We miss you.”
Bharathiraja said SPB has no death and continues to live through his songs.
The 74-year old singer earned a variety of sobriquets from his fans like “Padum Nila,” (singing moon), “Isai Megam” (music cloud that showered songs), “Gaandha kuralon” (Man of a magnetic voice) for his mellifluous voice.